You will be redirected in 30 seconds or close now.

ColdFusion Authors: Yakov Fain, Jeremy Geelan, Maureen O'Gara, Nancy Y. Nee, Tad Anderson

Related Topics: ColdFusion

ColdFusion: Article

Do We Really Need These Newfangled ColdFusion Features?

What Were They Thinking?

Several weeks ago in the #coldfusion channel on the Dalnet IRC network we had a rather spirited discussion about some of the new features in ColdFusion 8. The discussion focused on <cfimage> and its related tags, and whether ColdFusion developers actually needed such functionality as part of the product we have all come to know and love.

In recent weeks, as I've heard public discussions by Adobe about some of the new features of ColdFusion 8, and as I played with some of them as part of the public beta, I realized that the discussion could have been about any number of features that are a part of ColdFusion 8.

I can't remember where I heard or maybe read it, but sometime ago there was some buzz in the community because a respected member made a claim that most ColdFusion developers only use about 10 tags. Maybe I have the number wrong, but I think you get the point. There are two new tags, and related tags, that I think will bump up that number, <cfimage> and <cfzip>. I know that currently there are several products we can use for image manipulation, as well as for creating and using zip files. I also understand that most of these products are essentially a wrapper for Java functionality available to any ColdFusion developer using ColdFusion MX or higher.

For a lot of ColdFusion developers, using any of these products, or Java itself, aren't options. There are a wide variety of reasons, but one that stands out in my mind is ease of use. Some of the products that exist that perform tasks we have in ColdFusion 8 aren't easy to use. Learning how to interact with Java, or for some people learning to use CFCs, might be enough of a hurdle to dissuade their use. The mere cost of learning these tools might limit their usefulness. Keep in mind the "easy" is a relative term. If you asked the developers of any of these tools or any of the OO or Java gurus who are part of the ColdFusion community they'll tell you these tools are easy to use, and may even think they're not needed. However, for a lot of developers, they aren't easy to understand much less use.

I was drawn to ColdFusion because it was easy for me to create applications my employer at the time wanted. I spent about a year programming an intranet application in PHP before discovering ColdFusion. In about a week, I was able to recreate enough of the intranet application in ColdFusion to persuade my employer that the cost of the server licenses would be more than compensated by my increased productivity. It took me about six weeks to rewrite the intranet application as a ColdFusion application. How was it possible to take an application that took a year in one language and rewrite it in six weeks using ColdFusion? The answer is obvious: ColdFusion is easy.

So, to answer my question, do we really need <cfimage> or <cfzip>? Yes, we do. We need them so ColdFusion remains easy. We need them so developers who may not or cannot use third-party tools for image manipulation can create more powerful and compelling applications in a fraction of the time. We need them so developers who only have access to shared hosting and can't invoke native Java objects can create the applications they want and deserve.

This discussion can go beyond the coding features of ColdFusion 8. Do we really need server monitoring? A lot of ColdFusion developers probably don't work on applications so big or heavily visited that server metrics would even be on their radar. I must admit the server monitoring tools in ColdFusion 8 are awesome. The amount of information you can collect about your server is astounding. To be able to view live data about memory use, database statistics pertaining to slow running queries, and stats about individual page requests is quite impressive, but is it necessary? I think so because ColdFusion isn't only easy, it's powerful.

<cfimage> and <cfzip> make it easier to accomplish fairly common tasks. Server monitoring gives us a tool we can use to streamline our applications. I think that the server monitoring tools, even on the smallest applications, offer us something no other language or application server can claim. The server itself can help us learn to be better developers. By studying the database statistics we can see which queries are taking longer to run. This may lead us to look a little closer at our SQL statements to see if we can make them more efficient. By watching the data about page requests, we may be inclined to look at our ColdFusion code itself and see how we can code more efficiently, or even to begin caching practices we've otherwise overlooked. At the very least, it will give us an idea of where to start looking when we eventually have the chance to work on an enterprise-level application with performance issues. The best part is we don't need to install anything else; we don't need to fiddle with third-party libraries or products. All we need is access to the ColdFusion administrator.

There are two other groups of tags that I think make ColdFusion easier and more powerful. <cfexchange> and <cfpresentation> give ColdFusion developers functionality I'm not sure exists in any third-party tools or easily recreated by the average developer using Java. I will admit that when we got our first glimpse of <cfpresentation> at CFUnited last year my response was lukewarm. Yes, I thought it was cool, but what purpose could it possibly serve? As I started playing with ColdFusion 8 and tried out <cfpresentation> I realized that it has myriad uses. With very little code, developers can create presentations covering a vast array of uses including employee orientation, annual reports, online training, and in-services for new products or procedures. <cfpresentation> makes it not only easy to create, but update, these presentations.

I know of quite a few developers who would love to easily include some basic e-mail functionality via Microsoft Exchange into their applications. I know that a lot of information can be gleaned from later versions of Exchange using <cfldap>. However, I think some might be more inclined to try to learn Java than muddle their way through LDAP and the directory hierarchy that exists in Exchange. <cfexchange> offers not only the ability to retrieve mail, contacts, and appointments from an Exchange server, but to create new contacts, tasks, and appointments as well. I know of a handful of developers already working on applications that will mimic Outlook Web Access (OWA) functionality using ColdFusion 8. So now their intranet mail application is written in a language they feel more comfortable with, as well as having the mail application fit within the standard Web template for their respective companies (I know this can probably be done now with OWA, but it's ASP, or whatever flavor Microsoft is using these days, and what ColdFusion developers want to punish themselves like that?).

I haven't had the time to use every new feature in ColdFusion 8. But I have made a point of trying out all the features I thought were excellent additions to ColdFusion, as well as the ones that initially made me wonder, "What were they thinking?" I can say without hesitation I don't think there's any new feature that doesn't add value to ColdFusion for ColdFusion developers. Each new feature makes ColdFusion easier and more powerful. Whether you'll use any of these new features immediately, or six months down the road, ColdFusion 8 gives us new tools to make it easier to create powerful applications even faster than before. Don't get me wrong, there are some things I would have preferred over some of these new features, but each new feature adds something to the language we've come to love.

So, do we really need these newfangled ColdFusion 8 features? If you want ColdFusion to become more powerful, yet easier to use, and you want to become more efficient at creating applications and making your application code more efficient, the answer is a resounding, yes!

More Stories By Scott Stroz

Scott Stroz is a senior software architect at Alagad (http://www.alagad.com). He has been working with ColdFusion since version 5 and has been a Macromedia/Adobe Certified Advanced ColdFusion Developer since ColdFusion MX. He has developed and fostered a passion for Flex 2 and is the author of Flogr, a Flex-based ColdFusion log reader. Scott is also a blogger and frequent speaker at User Groups and conferences on various Flex and ColdFusion topics.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

@ThingsExpo Stories
DX World EXPO, LLC, a Lighthouse Point, Florida-based startup trade show producer and the creator of "DXWorldEXPO® - Digital Transformation Conference & Expo" has announced its executive management team. The team is headed by Levent Selamoglu, who has been named CEO. "Now is the time for a truly global DX event, to bring together the leading minds from the technology world in a conversation about Digital Transformation," he said in making the announcement.
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Conference Guru has been named “Media Sponsor” of the 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. A valuable conference experience generates new contacts, sales leads, potential strategic partners and potential investors; helps gather competitive intelligence and even provides inspiration for new products and services. Conference Guru works with conference organizers to pass great deals to gre...
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, demonstrated how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and shared the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the develop...
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, led attendees through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He looked at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering m...
"Evatronix provides design services to companies that need to integrate the IoT technology in their products but they don't necessarily have the expertise, knowledge and design team to do so," explained Adam Morawiec, VP of Business Development at Evatronix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
Widespread fragmentation is stalling the growth of the IIoT and making it difficult for partners to work together. The number of software platforms, apps, hardware and connectivity standards is creating paralysis among businesses that are afraid of being locked into a solution. EdgeX Foundry is unifying the community around a common IoT edge framework and an ecosystem of interoperable components.
Large industrial manufacturing organizations are adopting the agile principles of cloud software companies. The industrial manufacturing development process has not scaled over time. Now that design CAD teams are geographically distributed, centralizing their work is key. With large multi-gigabyte projects, outdated tools have stifled industrial team agility, time-to-market milestones, and impacted P&L stakeholders.
"Akvelon is a software development company and we also provide consultancy services to folks who are looking to scale or accelerate their engineering roadmaps," explained Jeremiah Mothersell, Marketing Manager at Akvelon, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and co-located with the 1st DXWorld Expo will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud ...
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...
"MobiDev is a software development company and we do complex, custom software development for everybody from entrepreneurs to large enterprises," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
"There's plenty of bandwidth out there but it's never in the right place. So what Cedexis does is uses data to work out the best pathways to get data from the origin to the person who wants to get it," explained Simon Jones, Evangelist and Head of Marketing at Cedexis, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5–7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buye...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.